Call of the North (24): Talllinnnnn

Aug 2

The day started leftfooted. Couldnt fall asleep last night, so woke up late, credit card machine at the hotel didnt work, so i lost 10 vital minutes, ultimately i reached the harbor at 7:31, the boat was at 7:30.  So I had to wait for the boat at 9am to finally cross the Baltic Sea.

Fortunately, bad mood, as well as unfortunately good mood, doesn’t last for ever. This time responsible for the change was the fantastic town of Tallinn.

The Marco Polo guide I got for the Baltic part of the trip (good bye, Lonely Planet! and thank you, done your job well) says: “who goes to the Baltics without expectations will leave there convinced (s)he has found a treasure.”

I agree, and that after only 12 hours in Tallinn.

I had heard the city is special, that it is “trendy” now to go for a week-end to Tallinn, for partying. A friend of mine went with a group of boyz. Later I found that NY Times is calling it nothing less than “world partying capital”. So I was curious.

And, they don’t exaggerate. Tallinn is one of the most charming cities i’ve seen. Couldnt believe it. Sort of a Sighisoara

plus Braşov

plus Sibiu,

together

and squared, to a capital with a pink parliament.

The football team is called Flora Tallinn, and it fits. A city like a flower.

The Old Town is remarcably well maintained/restored, and larger than most seen so far. Two parts, Downtown, newer and larger, and Uptown, older, to the right in the panorama below.

It charmed me from the first steps on a sidestreet close to the hostel.

Soon I reached the City Hall square, with apparently the only Gothic city hall remaining in Europe, from 1452.

I soon notice something’s up in the square. First I saw people with strange clothing,

then the scene, behind.

And then the noise, singing and dancing:

Catalan Days in Tallinn, that’s what it was.

I left them to their stuff and went on to buy a train ticket to my next destination. That’s when I found out that I cannot buy a train ticket, because – THEY DO NOT HAVE TRAINS. So, for the record, for traveling in the Baltix, use the bus. Bookingestonia.com have the headquarters right next to the main square in Tallinn.

There are 2 King Kong syndrome spots to be checked. First, in the City Hall tower

watching people having fun downstairs

plenty.

Second, the tower of this church

the highest observation point in town.

But till then, lotsa interesting places, like this pharmacy

selling medicine since 1422.

Bought a pair of napkins and took a picture of a fully catalan terrace.

I dont’ know if the iberics did it, or if it’s like that all the time, but i had the feeling i plunged from the beautiful and cold North into a warm and friendly city, equally clean and well-maintained, just a touch more “homey”. Maybe because it reminded me of places from home, or rather of how places from home could look if well-maintained.

At the Dominican monastery you enter through a passage

which takes you

to one of the favorite photgraphing spots. Obviously Japanese-conquered, who were discussing with some Chinese in English, fraternizing for a reciprocal picturetaking.

I waited for them to finish

to take my picturesque toll.

Another nice thing is the way objectives are explained. So you know what you’re dealing with.

I’ve taken about another hundred thousand pictures on streets,

but I won’t post them all here, they are pretty much along the same lines,

of cobbled stone.

I’ll try to focus on important things, like the Blackfriar society house. The reason to remember this will be explained in the next episode.

Finally got to the second KKS point, a church used to be the tallest building in the world at some stage (till it burned down), and started climbing

A LOT. Till under the roof,

for the panorama,

some details of the old town, with defense towers,

the harbor,

roofs,

etc. Worth it, as usual.

Further on, another thing to remember, also in connection to the next episode, the Three Sisters, guild houses from around 1400, impecably restored.

Then Fat Margaret, a tower that fat that it didnt fit in the picture,

so I had to step back to get it with all her mighty belly.

Back,

along the city walls

towards the gate to Uptown.

This lady had a very good sales technique – hi, where are you from, want a postcard? It worked.

Upstairs, the first attraction is the Orthodox Cathedral, made by Russians around 1800.

Down below, a guy was teaching tourists to shoot the bow (is that how you call it?)

10 tries, 10 EUR… rather expensive… but too tempting.

It’s not THAT easy.

Moving on, the Long Hermann stands tall behind the pink parliament, the highest defense tower.

And that’s about all of the old town.

For this Russian palace I went out of the old town for ~2km, thru da rain.

Meanwhile, catalans had it going,

but i left them to look for other corners reminding me of my home town,

which were plenty.

Evening was smuggling itself in, so i went back to the main square, where another catalan band was just about to start the show.

A fun dialogue followed – the band leader could speak only catalan, and 3 english words: “dance, very, easy”, and was trying to teach the crowd how to dance catalan dances. Shortly after, a girl showed up, translating into estonian. Problem is, to my mind there were VERY FEW estonians in the square – the majority were tourists who understood estonian exactly as much as catalan. Nevertheless, they eventually got how this dancing thing works:

After a while, the Tall People joined forces with the dancing crowd,

so I left them in charge,

and went to look for some foodishness. When I came back, it was already dark,

so I finally half-heartedly went back to my room in the hostel, where I spent a few short hours in the bed on the right:

Good night.

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